Friday, June 8, 2012

Plots and Casting Part 1/?

This will be a frequently talked about subject. This is the bare bones beginning.

It is an often quote bit of advice that one should never write a script with particular people in mind to play the parts. It's fine to be inspired by a particular actor or performance. Whatever it takes to make the characters real and the dialog easier to write. However, there are reams of stories about how a film was developed with specific actors in mind but produced with the 12th choice in the role. This rule applies when a film goes through normal development and is funded before the casting call is placed. For most indie films, raising what is needed for the budget depends on what actor is attached to the project. Lead actors from network series of the 1990s can raise as much as $1 million dollars in the horror/scifi arena. Lead actors from the 2000s can raise as much as $3million in the horror/scifi arena. For a while ten years ago, Jeff Fahey was hitting that arena hard in the 2000s until his career righted itself. Persuading an actor to attach themselves to a project before it is funded is not easy. The best and most inexpensive way is the script. But how?

A casting director had some interesting advice. He said that we had to figure out what kind of actor they were. If they were adventurous types that are always looking stretch themselves, the best way to them is to write something for them that they have never played before. Comedians are always lamenting not being considered for dramatic rolls. Dramatic actors often want to cut up. For some, the enticement is playing a particular type of character like a hooker or a vampire or a cowboy. Or perhaps a hooker cowboy who is also a vampire. I shouldn't say things like that in this town. It'll be a series on the CW.

We have a broad canvas on which to create the Demonspawn web series. Simon Molinar has a history that spans centuries. He has known every type of person from peasant to royalty on both sides of the law and every side of politics. We decided that it would be foolish to not take advantage of that history. And between the Highlander and Forever Knight, we had a template to follow. In present day, there is a situation plaguing Simon and Joe. Sometimes, Simon finds a corresponding theme in his long and active past. The past informs the decisions made in the present. Actually, with Joe in his life, Simon is forced to look at his past decisions and choose a different path – in some cases. I say sometimes, because Simon likes to talk about his life. There may be no corresponding situation at all. He may be just in the mood to spin a yarn. At any rate it gives us a lot of latitude for characters that are not only fun to watch and fit the story but also can attract the actors we are after.

But that isn't the only way we plan to attract actors and, hopefully, viewers. Star names of all sorts like to do parodies of major films and TV. They do such skits on shows like SNL. The website Funny or Die is full of celebrity driven parody. We have a couple of names that are interested in the parodies we have in mind. Hopefully, from that interest, we can attract more. The parodies are all films, TV shows or commercials that Joe and Simon are watching. It can be anything from crime dramas, to reality shows to scifi and horror. Of course, we will thoroughly lampoon Twilight, but there are many other fun topics to explore. Not all will be brutal lampoons. Some will be loving send ups – like the way Young Frankenstein did with old horror films. There will be glee amidst the thrills and chills.

Now, how do we get these fun scripts to the actors we're after? We have a couple of options. The direct approach involves running a Breakdown(TM) or casting call. Since web series are more common and often fall under a SAG contract, managers are more likely to heed a client's request to look at them and pass them along. To hedge that bet, we can mention a specific actor in the Breakdown as a prototype for the character. We have connections to a few names through routes so serendipitous that no one would believe me if I laid them out in a diagram. We believe that at least one and possibly two of them would go for the parodies.

Now, to the basic plot for the web series. There are minor spoilers ahead.

The series will begin a few years after Simon and Joe [the full backstory to these characters can be found on the menu to the right under Backstory] go on the run from Delphi 2.0. The events in Demon Under Glass and how Joe came to be on the run with Simon a year later will be covered in the opening sequence of each episode in a voice over by Joe with images matching the narration. Then, Joe will do a voice over bringing viewers up to speed on where they are at that particular time and why. In this arc, Joe and Simon are in a new town keeping a low profile. They've had a close brush with capture (there will be flashbacks). Something about how they were discovered makes them paranoid. While Simon tries to figure out if they are being tracked, Joe is analyzing the data they got. After a while, Simon becomes convinced that they are being watched by someone not associated with Delphi. It has happened to Simon before, but this time there is the internet to intensify the attention. Joe is skeptical at first, but he soon realizes that there are women who believe in vampires watching him and Simon. Mayhem ensues. All the while, the pair are going about their usual routines which includes a lot of TV and movies, shop, do chores and argue.

'Till next time.

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